A Herefordshire councillor has resigned from a key post in frustration at not being able to put council policy into practice on the ground.

Independents for Herefordshire (IfH) councillor William Wilding, who represents the Penyard ward, sat on the 15-strong committee which determines contentious planning applications in the county.

But he resigned from this after being reprimanded for likening a planning agent’s claims regarding a small rural housing development to Russian president Vladimir Putin’s rhetoric on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

He was told by the council’s monitoring officer to apologise to the agent, which he says he has done.

“In my letter of apology I make clear that I was not suggesting that the applicant or his agent were like President Putin in any way,” he wrote on the Herefordshire Politics Facebook group.

“My criticism was of the language being used to greenwash the planning application, not the person.”


IfH controls Herefordshire Council in coalition with the Greens. The council declared a “climate emergency” in 2019, and brought in a raft of sustainability targets for the county.

Coun Wilding explained: “I resigned from the planning committee in protest at the dichotomy that I constantly faced by being a member.

“There’s an energy crisis, terrible flooding, a global mass extinction of insects. Yet if we block an application which does not address these problems, or adds to them, we are accused of ‘pre-determination’.”

He added: “I naively thought we could alter the way we judged applications, but it’s impossible to do anything but follow government regulations.

“At a local level, we are powerless to change policies, which encourage developers to make profits without addressing the climate emergency.”

Instead, “we urged to pass applications which are not sustainable”, he said.

“National policies always trump local recommendations. Being a member of the planning committee was like banging your head against a wall, behind which government promises that climate change is taken seriously, are hidden.”

He said the planning system “is just one area that needs a total make-over, but instead of trying to do that, we just get repeatedly told that rules are rules and can’t be changed”.

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